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Pronovost v. Tierney

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 4, 2017

JAMIE PRONOVOST
v.
MARISA TIERNEY

          Argued March 15, 2017.

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Shapiro, J.

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for the defendant's alleged negligence, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury, where the court, Shapiro, J., granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Matthew Julian Forrest, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Thomas S. Lambert, with whom, on the brief, was Robert O. Hickey, for the appellee (defendant).

          Alvord, Prescott and Bear, Js.

         Syllabus

         The plaintiff, P, a resident of Connecticut, sought to recover damages from the defendant, T, a nonresident of Connecticut, arising from a motor vehicle accident in Maryland caused by the defendant's alleged negligence. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss on the ground that the relevant long arm statute (§ 52-59b [a] [3] [B]), which confers personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual with respect to a cause of action arising from a tortious act outside Connecticut that causes injury to a person or property in Connecticut, did not provide personal jurisdiction over the defendant based on the facts alleged in the amended complaint and the facts evidenced in the record. The court concluded that there was no evidence that the defendant, who the plaintiff claimed maintained a calligraphy and graphic design business engaged in interstate commerce, derived any revenue from Connecticut residents and no evidence that the defendant had earned enough revenue in Connecticut to have a commercial impact in the forum. On the plaintiff's appeal to this court, held that the plaintiff could not prevail on his claim that the trial court erred in its application of § 52-59b (a) (3) (B) because the statute only required that the defendant derived substantial revenue from interstate commerce, and did not additionally require that the defendant derived substantial revenue from Connecticut: this court was bound by our Supreme Court's interpretation of the term ‘‘substantial revenue'' in Ryan v. Cerullo (282 Conn. 109), as sufficient revenue to indicate a commercial impact in the forum state, and the plaintiff here did not allege, and did not produce any evidence in support of his opposition to the defendant's motion to dismiss, that the defendant derived substantial revenue from Connecticut residents, and, therefore, § 52-59b (a) (3) (B) did not authorize the assertion of jurisdiction over the defendant; moreover, the plaintiff's proposed interpretation of § 52-59b (a) (3) (B) would have placed the statute in constitutional jeopardy because the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution protects an individual's liberty interest in not being subject to binding judgments of a forum with which he or she had established no meaningful contacts, ties, or relations, and, in the present case, there was no evidence that the defendant derived any revenue from Connecticut, and the motor vehicle accident was the only interaction between the parties upon which the plaintiff relied for the establishment of personal jurisdiction in Connecticut over the defendant.

          OPINION

          BEAR, J.

         The plaintiff, Jamie Pronovost, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his single count, amended complaint, in which he alleged negligence against the defendant, Marisa Tierney, arising from a motor vehicle collision in Maryland. The court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint against the defendant, a nonresident of Connecticut at the time that the action was commenced, [1] after determining that the relevant long arm statute, General Statutes § 52-59b (a) (3) (B), did not provide jurisdiction over the defendant based on the facts alleged in the complaint and in an affidavit filed by the defendant in her reply to the plaintiff's memorandum in opposition to the motion to dismiss. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred in its application of § 52-59b (a) (3) (B) to the facts as pleaded in this case. We affirm the judgment of the court.

         The following facts, as alleged in the plaintiff's com-plaint, [2] and procedural history are relevant to the resolution of this appeal. The plaintiff, a Connecticut resident, commenced this action in Connecticut against the defendant on April 9, 2015. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that, on September 13, 2013, the defendant, while operating a motor vehicle, collided with the rear end of the plaintiff's vehicle in Maryland. The defendant's conduct or actions caused the damages to the plaintiff's vehicle in that she (1) was inattentive because she failed to a keep reasonable and prudent lookout for other vehicles on the road; (2) failed to operate the vehicle under reasonable and proper control to enable her to avoid causing damage to the plaintiff's vehicle; and (3) failed to operate her vehicle as a reasonably prudent person would have under the circumstances. The collision caused damages to the plaintiff's vehicle and a corresponding diminution in value to the automobile. The plaintiff sought $4737 plus interest from the time of the accident, as well as costs, fees, and other consequential damages.

         On July 2, 2015, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her under § 52-59b and that the exercise of jurisdiction would violate the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution. The plaintiff countered in his memorandum of law in opposition to the motion that the court had personal jurisdiction under § 52-59b (a) (3) (B), and he provided evidence purporting to establish that the defendant had maintained a calligraphy and graphic design business engaged in interstate commerce. In reply, the defendant argued, inter alia, that the plaintiff had failed to allege or provide evidence that she derived ‘‘substantial revenue from interstate . . . commerce'' under § 52-59b (a) (3) (B), as that phrase was defined by our Supreme Court in Ryan v. Cerullo, 282 Conn. 109, 124-25, 918 A.2d 867 (2007), because there was no allegation or evidence that she had derived any revenue from Connecticut.

         The court heard argument on October 26, 2015. On October 28, 2015, the court issued its memorandum of decision granting the defendant's motion to dismiss. After setting forth the substantial revenue requirement under Ryan, the court determined that there was no evidence that the defendant derived any revenue from Connecticut residents. Additionally, the court determined that there was no evidence showing that the defendant earned enough revenue from Connecticut to ...


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